Saturday, March 27th is World Theatre Day. Last year at this time I had only recently joined the theatre blogging world, and was just getting my bearings, so I sat back and keenly observed as the day past. I saw the theatre world, artists from different pockets of the globe, come together to celebrate what we do. Wow. That is the power of community. That is the power of theatre.
This is what theatre means to me. To me theatre equals community.
We come together - audience, actors, designers, directors, stage managers, technicians, etc - to share in an experience that is unique to that moment and will never be replicated again. This is what I love about theatre. Theatre exists for living in the moment. It is always about being present. That is the power of a genuine shared experience. It has the power to change. To transform.
When writing my program notes for our production of The Shape of Things in 2007 I wrote “My goal, as Artistic Producer, is to create a community every night where we can share the stories of our lives with each other”. We are storytellers who pass on our stories generation after generation from community to community.
The ancient Greeks would gather together to eat and drink in celebration of Dionysus. It was a festival. A reason to party. It was bawdy. It was fun. It was poetry. It was entertainment. A community celebration. You ask anyone who started doing theatre - most of us when we were kids or teenagers - why they started, and maybe more importantly why they stayed, and I can almost guarantee that 99% of time it was because a) it was fun and b) it gave them a sense of community.
They may not say it exactly in that wording but that is what it essentially boils down to. A “sense of community” in psychological terms is defined as “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”
And, there you have it. Every night at the theatre this is the experience that we share. We practitioners of theatre come together to share our stories and the audience comes together to share in their need to connect to the human experience through shared experience.
We laugh. We cry. We feel outraged. We see our lives reflected on stage. And, most importantly we connect with each other. We share a moment in time. We share our humanity. This is what makes theatre unique. This is what theatre means to me.